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Plate Chiller With Pellet Hops


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31 replies to this topic

#1 Yorg

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 10:35 PM

I'm thinking of buying a plate chiller, and I use pellet hops. I hear you need to pre-filter with a stainless steel scrubby or get a block chiller every time. Kind of sounds like it might be more of a problem than a solution.
Anyone using one of these and happy with how it works?
How do you use it to ensure no blockage, and is cleaning it a real problem?

#2 bakkerman

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 10:39 PM

I use pellets, plate chiller and a hop sock.

No probs.

#3 Tony

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 10:39 PM

I will be interested to see how this one goes............ i kind of have the same questions. Ive been considering one but cant get by the fact that you cant open it up and clean it.

cheers

#4 razz

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 10:48 PM

I use pellets, plate chiller and a hop sock.

No probs.

Could not have put it better myself bakkerman.
+1

#5 domonsura

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 11:40 PM

I use a plate chiller (with a hopscreen) - I backflush my plate chiller immediately after use and run hot cleaning solution through it in both directions with the pump. Good little units, they just require a little more attention to hygiene & problem prevention. (ie: no lazy 'I'll do it tomorrow' brewday cleanups :) )
It is a good idea to put some kind of filter before a plate chiller, and also position the pickup tube so as to minimise the hop trub uptake in the first place.
I think it's fair to say that if you were to not flush & clean the plate chiller out properly after each use, and be using a plain pickup tube that allows everything to go through, you may end up with flow problems or a blockage within a few brews due to accumulated pellet hop trub, but I doubt it would block with pellets in one brew unless you picked up a huge amount of hop trub in one go. Getting a piece of whole hop cone in the chiller might be a different story.......but even then you'd have to get a lot in there to block every wort path. Far more important is the hygiene side of getting solids in there, solids provide a place for bacteria to hang out & hide from sanitiser when you do your next brew. Rule # 1 is 'If it doesn't get in there, you don't have to get it out' :D

#6 warrenlw63

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 11:54 PM

Hey Dom

Well done... :) It's good to see a retailer not just preaching the virtues of their product merely to move it along. That sort of advice showed a great deal of honesty.

Must confess they're an interesting looking bit of kit. I reckon in conjunction with some form of hopback they'd be pretty handy. B)

Might take the plunge one day (been tempted by one for a while). A new brew toy is a good thing.

Edit: Dom, how would they go say for example if you boiled one in a pot to sanitize it? Are they prone to damage this way?

Warren -

Edited by warrenlw63, 01 May 2008 - 11:56 PM.


#7 domonsura

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 12:05 AM

I can't see how it would damage one of them, they're a pretty solid little unit and don't have any parts that would be damaged by 100 degrees as far as I'm aware. I have heard of people boiling them to sterilise them, sounds like a fairly common sense thing to me as long as the unit is clean in the first place.

#8 browndog

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 06:30 AM

I've bought a Chillout mkIII and am in the process of an upgrade of the brewery. I've removed my old pickup tube and replaced it with a S/S braid and have placed an inlet and outlet in the kettle at a height that is near where the top of the wort should be after the boil so that I can use the march pump to whirlpool and the pickup near the top to minimise disturbance to the formation of the trub cone. I intend on using gravity to drain the wort though the plate chiller. I'm giving it a run on sunday, looking forward to seeing the result.

cheers

Browndog

#9 Yorg

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 09:18 AM

Please be sure to let us know how it goes after your brew.

#10 browndog

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 09:26 AM

Please be sure to let us know how it goes after your brew.


Will do, including photos.

cheers

Browndog

#11 Tony

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 09:31 AM

Excelent!

Thanks browndog :) looking forward to your results.

cheers

#12 DrSmurto

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 11:53 AM

I have the beerbelly hopscreen and plate chiller and am a very lazy brewer. Even with pellets i dont seem to get any come thru the chiller and i chock up the boiler with a lump of wood to get the last few drips out of the kettle! :o :D

I wash straight after use with hot water (both directions) and then run a no rinse sanitiser thru it and leave it till next time when i give it another no rinse sanitiser flush.

#13 browndog

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 07:28 AM

Well, all the plumbing is now done, I was quite surprised how light the braid is once the tubing is removed, I can see it flying all over the place with a good boil going, my answer to this was to stick it to the bottom of the kettle with some aquarium silicon in 4 spots. Looking forward to running a test tomorrow.

cheers

Browndog

#14 browndog

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 12:50 AM

Gave the brewery a test run this arvo, I mainly wanted to boil some water to clean the kettle and new bits prior to the first brew. I thought it would be a good chance to check the braid for problems so I chucked 50g of ahtanum and a 1/2 teaspoon of koppaflock into the boil and let it go for ten minutes. After flame out, I got the whirlpool going and left that going for 5 mins and shut down the pump, then I started to drain the kettle at a rate of about 1L per min. I collected the run off in buckets to see how well the braid worked and i must say, it worked pretty well, a small amount of very fine hop debris passed though the braid, I'm confident I won't have to worry about the chiller ever getting blocked. I was waiting to see if the braid would block up, but it never happened, the flow did slow down very slightly, but not enoough to be a concern. One thing that I was surprised by was how much wort was actually drained from the kettle! I expected the flow to stop once the wort dropped to the height of the braid, but it got there and just kept going, in fact, the first 6" or so were completely out of the wort and it was still draining. I can't say if this system is going to work well with a high gravity highly hopped beer, but I intend on doing a double brew day on monday that will test it out and will see how the chillout performs.

The braid in the kettle
Attached File  kettlebottom.JPG   141.85KB   34 downloads

whirlpool pickup and return
Attached File  inlet_outlet.JPG   151.48KB   14 downloads

Attached File  inlet_outlet_outside.JPG   149.48KB   12 downloads

The new plumbing
Attached File  plumbing.JPG   134.21KB   34 downloads

Draining the kettle 1L per min
Attached File  draining_kettle.JPG   137.73KB   15 downloads

What was left in the kettle
Attached File  kettle_remains.JPG   157.14KB   28 downloads


More to follow on the use of the chillout.

cheers

Browndog

Edited by browndog, 04 May 2008 - 12:52 AM.


#15 Thirsty Boy

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 01:27 AM

I've been using my chillout for the last 4 or so brews.

I have had no success with whirlpooling in my kettle and I am actually more afraid of "build up" from a combination of hops and protein trub than I am of actual blocking - this is what eventually slows down and kills the plate filters at work - so I have designed my solution to avoid both the problems I have with whirpooling and to remove basically all the hop and hot break trub from the wort prior to hitting the plate chiller.

Basically I filter it. My pick-up tube runs from dead center bottom of my converted keg kettle and sucks up every last drop and all the gunge thats in the kettle - then it goes through a standard 10inch filter housing with an old beer filter cartridge in it (not good enough for yeast any more but fine for this) so what gets to the kettle is basically clear as could be. As a bonus I can use the filter and housing as an actual hop back and put my aroma addition in it instead of the kettle. This seems to work well.

Several brews into this method, it is working well simply by gravity, although the last brew was an APA with a lot of hop matter and 45g of pellets stuffed directly into the filter cartridge... this was asking a bit too much and the last 5L or so had to be pushed through with the March pump.

So far I'm happy - I get the extra utilization of not having to use a hop sock, I don't have to wait at all for a whirlpool or settling rest (flame off start to drain immediately) I get to drain my kettle completely and lose less than 500ml of wort to trub, I get to be confident that the absolute minimum of goo is getting into my plate chiller, and nothing but cold break is getting into the fermentor either. - My method and set-up is still a bit rustic, but after a few more brews I should have it dialed in and be able to nail a few bits of hardware into place rather than having them floating around the brewery to be tripped over.

I immediately backflush the plate chiller with hot water saved from the chill - I sanitise by covering the wort side in/outlets with tinfoil and baking the thing in the oven for a couple of hours. That way even if there are chunks of bugs hiding in there, they get to die at 200C and the chiller stays sterile till next use.

Pictures follow of a test run done with 300g (ish) of hop pellets just to see how it would go. Since then I have changed the pick-up to run directly from the center bottom of the kettle. This needed to be pushed with the pump by the end... but it was a LOT of hops

Attached File  IMG_1678.JPG   58.82KB   22 downloads Attached File  IMG_1681.JPG   52.2KB   25 downloads

Attached File  IMG_1682.JPG   25.43KB   20 downloads Attached File  IMG_1684.JPG   37.2KB   10 downloads

#16 kirem

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 08:35 AM

That's a good idea TB. I was thinking along those lines myself. Mainly to use the filter as a hopback.

#17 Yorg

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 10:51 PM

Just wondering what hole sizes these cartridges come in. I don't have an old beer one, like TB, so if I wanted to replicate this, I'm thinking I don't need to buy a new 1 micron. An order of magnitude or two above that would still do the trick don't ya reckon?

#18 Sammus

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 11:10 PM

Weird. I use a MKIII chillout, and although I recently got a screen from domonsura, for months and months before that I had a plain open pickup off to the side, and I've pumped heaps of pellet and plug and general trub through the chiller without ever blocking it. Only reason I got a screen is because I got the CPC plastic QD's without realising they had a little cross in the middle of the flow path. These got blocked with chucks on hop plug nearly every time I used it.

For the record I backflush my pump and chillout with hot tap water after use and leave it full of water. During the last 20min of the boil of my next brew I use my pump and HLT recirculate boiling water through it until its time to chill.

Edited by Sammus, 04 May 2008 - 11:13 PM.


#19 ausdb

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 12:48 AM

What was left in the kettle
Attached File  kettle_remains.JPG   157.14KB   28 downloads

You probably will notice a change when you do a beer where the braid gets actually covered in trub and hop debris

#20 browndog

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 01:25 PM

Well I christened the chiller with Denny Conn's Rye IPA this morning, it involved quite a bit of hops and the wort turned in at 1075. After Flame out I got the pump going to recirculate and left it going for 15 mins. Next time I'll let the wort stand 10 mins or so as convertion currents were constanly bringing hops to the surface while it was whirlpooling. I connected the chiller up vertically with the wort going in at the top and the water going in from the bottom. I had a flow rate of 10Lper min and it took 30mins to drain the fermenter. The result was pretty ordinary with the wort at 35C in the fermenter, the cooling water measured 18C. Next time I will hook the wort up to come in from the bottom and see if this makes a difference. As for the S/S braid, it worked well, the first L or so had some very fine hop particles in it and when I flushed the chiller I found it had a few particles but nothing that could ever cause a blockage. All in all I was pretty happy with the maiden run, now I'll refine the technique to get the wort down to the best possible temp without having to resort to ice buckets etc.

cheers

Browndog